“I felt like I did the wrong thing,” Ashley said. “Is there any way I can take this back? . . . I just killed my baby.”
A 2021 high school graduate and a self-described “party animal,” Ashley of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, talked in a video about the deep regrets she felt following her decision to take the abortion pill.1
Shocked, I watched her testimony. According to Ashley, almost immediately after taking the first pill of the two-pill regimen, she regretted her decision. She went home and searched the Internet for ways to possibly reverse what she had done. It was, as she said, “mission impossible.” She even called the doctors who gave her the abortion pill and asked about a reversal. They told her, “No, the progesterone is gone.”
“I [was] freaking out,” Ashley explained. “I was on Google, and I saw a hotline, and I called it. I put my zip code in, and then Jodi got back to me the very next morning.”
Ashley had phoned Women’s Choice Network, which works with Heartbeat International—the organization that launched AbortionPillReversal.com for mothers in Ashley’s situation.
When Ashley spoke of that phone call with Jodi, she beamed with newfound confidence. She explained that Jodi said, “Don’t listen to anybody. If you want your child, you will have her. There’s something we can do about this.” Jodi then called in a prescription for Ashley to take for a couple weeks until she could see the doctor at the clinic for a full examination.
The abortion pill reversal procedure is an incredible opportunity to erase years of potential guilt and regret. Why should Ashley and other new mothers be kept from a procedure to save their baby if that way exists?
Abortion pill reversal
The abortion pill is a two-pill regimen. The mother first takes mifepristone, which stops the baby from growing and essentially starves him. Then, about 48 hours later, the mother will take misoprostol, which causes cramping and bleeding and will dispel the dead baby.
In the reversal process—which can only be done if the mother has taken just the mifepristone—the mother receives heavy doses of progesterone, a synthetic version of the hormone that naturally prepares a woman’s body for changes that allow the baby to grow. The progesterone is supposed to reverse the effects of the mifepristone. This is what allowed Ashley—and others like her—to continue with their pregnancies.
Progesterone also “sticks” to receptors on cells in a woman’s immune system. With blocked receptors, the immune system cells are trapped without a way for the body’s white blood cells to fight infection. The reversal procedure wipes all those infection dangers away.2
Further, as these filled receptors meet with other progesterone receptors in the woman’s uterus, the placenta then nourishes the baby and continues to function as designed.3
With this new influx of progesterone continuing throughout the first trimester, babies delivered after the abortion pill reversal have had no reported birth defects.4
The effectiveness of this hormone treatment depends on how fast the progesterone reenters the woman’s bloodstream after she takes the mifepristone. Obria, a women’s clinic that does abortion pill reversals, says it is best to start treatment within the first 24 hours of taking mifepristone, but it also claims success within 72 hours of taking it.5
At Ashley’s follow-up appointment, the doctor monitored her pregnancy with an ultrasound to determine if the pregnancy had continued without complications. This 3D picture of her growing baby checked for a fetal heartbeat, confirmed the pregnancy’s location inside her uterus, and helped to tell how far along Ashley was in her pregnancy.
After this examination, doctors chose to give Ashley progesterone for the rest of her first trimester.
Abortion pill crisis
Thailynn, Ashley’s baby, was born healthy in 2021. During this time, surgical, legalized abortions went on in most US states. Since the Dobbs decision, however, there has been much backlash about the abortion pill reversal process from the executive branch, from Planned Parenthood, and regrettably, from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Members of ACOG have the microphone of the media and tell the public the procedure does not work. ACOG calls the abortion pill reversal a dangerous procedure and says that it is unscientific and unethical.6 It also believes that, once the mifepristone is swallowed, its effects are impossible to reverse. In addition, ACOG discounts studies proving a procedure’s effectiveness if it lacks a placebo group. However, physicians like Dr. George Delgado, who has seen success with the abortion pill reversal procedure, believe it is unethical to use a placebo group if it means not telling women their preborn baby’s predetermined fate.7
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, which gave the power to the states to decide the legality of abortion, ACOG has continued to advocate for the safety of the abortion pill regimen. Despite the Dobbs decision, ACOG pushes for women to have more access to it. Yet this access comes with several hazards that the organization ignores.
According to researchers, “In 2021, the FDA made the unprecedented decision to no longer require that a woman be examined by a competent medical professional before being given mifepristone. That in-person exam is the only opportunity to rule out an ectopic (outside the uterus) pregnancy. An in-person exam is also necessary to accurately determine gestational age, administer Rhogam for women with Rh negative blood types, and to screen for coercion and abuse.”8
When ACOG tried to prove that the reversal was unscientific, its trial was shut down due to severe patient bleeding. However, since hemorrhaging frequently occurs when a mother takes the abortion pills, this should not have been a surprise to experimenters. Further, this severe bleeding occurred only in women who did not receive the progesterone.9
ACOG wants women to feel safe taking the abortion pill regimen, but women taking it without a doctor’s supervision are far from safe. In 2016, the FDA loosened its restrictions on it, which enabled “doctors to prescribe abortion later in pregnancy and eliminat[ed] the reporting requirements for complications less than death.”10
Knowing this, we must ask: How many complications cause death at later dates? Further, because the abortion pill suppresses the immune system, it prevents disease-fighting white blood cells from activating. Therefore, women who take it at home open themselves up to chances of severe bleeding and infections leading to sepsis.11
Without intervention, the abortion pill regimen is deadly for the baby. With all this evidence, we see that it is often dangerous for the mother as well.
Abortion pill trends
Since the reversal of Roe v. Wade, abortion pill use has been on the rise. Although statistics regarding use since the Dobbs decision are as yet unknown, trends indicate that its use has increased. For example, according to the Austin American-Statesman, after surgical abortions were outlawed in Texas, “an international women’s health advocacy nonprofit organization saw a 1,100% increase in orders for so-called abortion pills.”12
Planned Parenthood—America’s most prominent abortion provider—has become a huge proponent of the abortion pill regimen and has begun pushing it throughout the US. In fact, PP plans to establish a mobile clinic in a 37-foot-long RV that will travel along Illinois’ border with Kentucky and Missouri offering abortions via pill for women up to 11 weeks’ gestation. It plans to offer surgical abortions a few months after that. PP cites a growing need for offering abortions and claims that there has been an increase in abortions at clinics along Illinois’ borders. For instance, after the Dobbs decision the wait for abortions at an Illinois Planned Parenthood abortion facility near the Missouri border went from four days to two and a half weeks.13
Dangers of the abortion pill
The online availability of the abortion pill is also a major issue for women who feel pressured. In an interview with this writer, Christa Brown, spokesperson for Heartbeat International, discussed the need for concern, saying, “With telehealth chemical abortion available across state lines and abortion pills available on more than 70 websites, there are many undocumented abortions occurring.” Brown added, “It has been reported that chemical abortion accounts for more than half of all abortions in the US.”
In addition to health problems that can result from the abortion pill, in areas where women can see a doctor via the Internet to get a prescription for it, the likelihood of her meeting a trained sidewalk counselor at a clinic is rare. So she may not have the opportunity to hear someone talk about the humanity of her baby, and she may never hear about the abortion pill reversal procedure if she should change her mind.
Leaving the abortion clinic, Ashley felt beaten down by guilt and anxiety. She needed someone to tell her that she could choose a different path and that it wasn’t too late. When she reached out to Jodi at the Women’s Choice Network, Ashley heard that reassuring voice she needed most. Now she wants all mothers to understand that there is hope after taking the mifepristone, and this hope is waiting at abortionpillreversal.com.
As Ashley happily stated at the end of the video, “They saved my life and my baby’s life.”
1. Copy of Ashley’s Story, Vimeo, Women’s Choice Network, Accessed October 28, 2022, vimeo.com/user124512472/download/604200740/7343cb60e1.
2. Clarke D. Forsythe and Donna Harrison, MD, “State Regulation of Chemical Abortion after Dobbs,” Liberty University Law Review, Vol. 16, Issue 3, Summer 2022, digitalcommons.liberty.edu/lu_law_review/vol16/iss3/2.
4. “Abortion Pill Reversal,” American Pregnancy Association, Accessed December 11, 2022, americanpregnancy.org/unplanned-pregnancy/abortion-pill-reversal.
5. “Abortion Pill Reversal,” Obria Medical Clinics, Accessed December 11, 2022, obria.org/reproductive-health/pregnancy-testing/abortion-pill-reversal.
6. “Abortion Pill Reversal: A Record of Safety and Efficacy,” Charlotte Lozier Institute, September 24, 2021, lozierinstitute.org/abortion-pill-reversal-a-record-of-safety-and-efficacy.
7. Mara Gordon, “Controversial ‘Abortion Reversal’ Regimen Is Put to the Test,” National Public Radio, March 22, 2019, npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/03/22/688783130/controversial-abortion-reversal-regimen-is-put-to-the-test.
8. Clarke D. Forsythe and Donna Harrison, MD.
9. Michal Pruski, Dominic Whitehouse, and Steven Bow, “The Right to Choose to Abort an Abortion: Should Pro-Choice Advocates Support Abortion Pill Reversal?” The New Bioethics 28, No. 3 (2022): 252–67, doi.org/10.1080/20502877.2022.2073857.
10. Clarke D. Forsythe and Donna Harrison, MD.
11. Clarke D. Forsythe and Donna Harrison, MD.
12. Samantha Putterman, “How an Unproven Abortion ‘Reversal’ Treatment Has Advanced in the US,” Austin American-Statesman, April 7, 2022, statesman.com/story/news/politics/politifact/2022/04/07/how-unproven-abortion-reversal-treatment-has-advanced-us/9485792002.
13. Samantha Kamman, “Planned Parenthood’s RV Abortion Clinic at Illinois Border Raises Safety Concerns, Pro-Lifers Say,” The Christian Post, October 5, 2022, christianpost.com/news/planned-parenthoods-mobile-abortion-clinic-raises-concerns.html.